I can’t decide what pleases me more – touching poems, funny poems or clever poems. I’m crazy about Linda Sue Park’s collection of sijo (a traditional Korean verse form), because here I don’t have to decide. Tap Dancing on the Roof provides readers with delightful poetic offerings of all three sorts – touching and funny and clever. Every elementary teacher needs this book.
A sijo is similar in nature to haiku, in that it has a specific syllabic structure (3 lines, each with 14-16 syllables). Linda Sue Park explains the form fully at the outset of her book. The nifty thing about sijo is that the third line of the poem offers up a twist, something funny or ironic or unexpected. This makes reading every one of Park’s poems a bit like savouring a gorgeous little petit four – they’re all neat, beautifully formed, delicious little packages of wisdom. I like that Park turns her attention to what’s funny and lovely about everyday occurrences: brushing your teeth, reading under the covers, watching birds at the feeder, long division. This book is ideal for teaching kids about the way poets look to small moments for inspiration.
And just when you imagine it couldn’t get better? The book is illustrated by the miraculous Istvan Banyai. I couldn’t think of a better visual match for Park’s whimsical poetry. A complete treat.